1. Add organic matter to your soil.
All soil is not created equal. Soil is essentially a collection of mineral particles of different sizes. If most of the particles are large (sand), water passes through rapidly. If most of the particles are small (clay), water will penetrate the soil much more slowly. The solution for either problem is the same: add organic matter. Organic matter, in the form of compost, chopped up leaves or composted manure will improve the texture and water-holding capacity of your soil. Add at least an inch of compost each year.
2. Deliver water to the root-zone.
Soaker hoses ensure that up to 90 percent of the water you apply to your garden is actually available to your plants. Sprinklers can claim only a 40 to 50 percent efficiency. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses minimize evaporation loss and keep the areas between plants dry, which also helps limit weed growth. Our Aqua Cones are an economical and effective way to get water directly to the roots of individual plants.
3. Use mulch to retain water.
A 6-8″ layer of organic mulch can cut water needs in half by blocking thirsty weeds and reducing evaporation. Organic mulches retain some water themselves and increase the humidity level around plants.
Organic mulches include chopped or shredded leaves, straw, compost, salt hay, shredded newspaper, grass clippings and rotted hay. Inorganic mulches include Pro Weed Mat and Fiber Tree Rings.
4. Use free water.
Rainwater is the best choice for your plants. It’s clear, unchlorinated and free. Use rain barrels or a cistern to collect water from your downspouts. A 1,000 square foot roof will yield 625 gallons of water from one inch of rain. To figure out how much you can collect from your roof, use the Rainfall Harvest Calculator
5. Choose plants carefully.
A plant that’s satisfied getting most of the water it needs from natural rainfall will require a lot less work from you. For drought-tolerant perennials, choose varieties that are native to your area (or a region with a similar climate). These plants will have adapted to your climate and soils. For example, a plant that thrives in the Pacific northwest will likely require lots of additional water in the much drier conditions of Colorado..